The weeping calf and the deconstructed arm swing.

Last week we showed you this video and blog post of a compressive left lower leg neuropathy and what it looks like when both heel and toe walking are attempted when both are compromised. It was nothing exciting but to see both in a clinical presentation is not all that common.

In today’s videos (the one above and this one here), the videos were all shot on the same day incidentally, we wanted you to see this gentleman’s gait in it’s normal gait pattern attempt.  Because less of the extremes of range and strength are required, it is far more difficult to detect the issues than in last week’s video clip (here).

There are plenty of things to talk about in this video but lets just point out one of them here today.  Remember, the lesion is in the left lower leg.

Absent right arm swing. 

We have been harping about arm swing for a long time.  Go to the search box here on our blog and type in “arm swing” and you will find an abundance of articles on the biomechanics and neurology of arm swing and how it is tied to leg swing.  In this case we have foot drop and impaired calf raise (video link) on the left. Their function is impaired/depressed. We are seeing this matching in the absence of right upper limb swing.  Remember, most of the time the upper limb takes the queue from the opposite lower limb. This is why coaching arm swing changes is not a sound idea most of the time, look for functional opportunities for changes in the opposite lower limb if deficits are present there.  

Part of what you are seeing is the increased activity in the left arm swing.  Why ? Because the client is abruptly lurching off of the left leg because of the stability and strength deficits in that limb. The brain knows that bearing weight on the left limb has challenges.  This causes an abrupt pitch (early departure) forward onto the right leg and this will be met with increased left arm swing (go limb around your home or office, you will see that it is a coupled phenomenon).  So, is it increased left arm swing you are seeing because of this issue we just mentioned or are you seeing decreased right arm swing because of the matching neuro-suppression of left leg ? 

This is where your clinical examination must come into play. Shame on anyone that is making the changes without clinical information. One must see that there rare two (at least) possible scenarios for the differential in arm swing. And one must also see that the arms in this case are not the issue, that it is the left lower limb deficits that are driving the issue.  Guaranteed.

Arm swing……..more to it than you might think.

Shawn and Ivo, The gait guys